The Smile on the Face of the Tiger

Bild eines Tigers

Stripes could see nothing but the towering flames right in front of him. He smelled their danger more than ever, felt his knees trembling visibly and knew that he wouldn’t be able to jump through the burning hoops much longer. Maybe today was the day he finally wouldn’t make it. The tiger hesitated which got the crowd impatient.

“Jump! Jump! Jump!”, they chanted and made it hard for Stripes to concentrate. Then he heard a much feared sound close to his ear. Mistress Iphie’s whip whizzed past right next to his head and he knew if he didn’t jump soon, he would feel its painful bite.

Stripes took a deep breath, contracted all his weary muscles and leapt. As he was mid-air there was absolute silence, then the crowd broke into thundering applause and Stripes knew he made it even before his paws touched the ground. The stench of burnt hair however made it clear enough to Stripes that he had barely made it this time.

Mistress Iphie, all dressed in black leather which made her black skin appear even darker, flashed a radiant smile that was clearly meant for the audience and not for Stripes. The tiger could smell her dissatisfaction with his performance as she walked towards him. With an angry nudge to Stripes’ flank she made the tiger bow to the crowd.

As Stripes raised again, Mistress Iphie – who felt the tiger’s fading strength and seemed sure he was too tired to fight the humiliation – did something she never dared before: She mounted the tiger as if he were a horse and paraded around on his back in the circus ring. As she was smiling and waving, the crowd went berserk.

Then the curtains opened and the tiny circus director entered the manège, wearing a large sparkling top hat that had slipped over his ears, a bushy mustache the tips of which reached from one side of his head to the other and – as always – carrying his cunning pet crow on his shoulder. The bird – being bigger than the circus director’s head and hat combined – starred menacingly into the crowd with its beady eyes.

“I hope you enjoyed our beloved Mistress Iphie with her pet tiger Stripes”, he said and his crow screeched mockingly “Pet tiger! Pet tiger!” until the director shushed it.

“If you ask her very nicely Mistress Iphie might even let you ride on Stripes’ back yourself”, the director said and burst out laughing as if he had made the funniest joke ever.

The crowd cheered as Mistress Iphie made another round, the crow flew over Stripes‘ head screeching “Pet tiger!” over and over again. Nobody seemed to care about Stripes‘ miserable expression – that is if anybody even noticed it! The tiger would have liked nothing more than to roar his anger right into their stupid faces but then everybody in the crowd would have known the ugly truth, that he was only half a tiger with no tooth left to bite with. It was right then and there that Stripes decided that tonight he would not meekly go back to his cage.

“Look, Mum!”, a little boy in the front row cried excitedly and pointed at the tiger. “The tiger is smiling!”

Mum, however, did not care for the way her son had pointed out this observation.

“Nonsense!”, she scolded without raising her voice in order not draw people’s attention to her impolite offspring. “And how often must I tell you: It is not nice to point fingers!”

She gave him one of those looks that made the boy very ashamed and very quiet, at least for five minutes.

But it is true, he thought while he put his fingers back in his pocket. There is a smile on the face of the tiger.

And right he was! As Stripes strode by the little boy with a spring in his step he thought he had lost forever, he smiled as wide as he dared without accidentally showing his missing teeth. How good it felt to finally decide to do what he should have done years ago:

Tonight, Stripes thought, I will kill Mistress Iphie.

Anmerkung

Diese Geschichte ist das Ergebnis einer Schreibübung für das Modul “Plot entwerfen (1/4)”. Dieser Text ist der erste, den ich für die Coursera-Spezialisierung: Kreatives Schreiben verfasst habe.

Obwohl ich mit diesem Text sehr zufrieden bin, muss ich gestehen, dass mein erster Entwurf ganz anders aussah. Denn: Ich hatte die Aufgabe missverstanden. In Schreibübung: Steigende Handlung kannst du lesen, was ich zuerst eingereicht habe.

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